I was huffing and puffing on the stair master at the local gym when I got the call. I had been looking for a new vehicle. I needed something cheap and reliable. Good luck finding something like that right? But my prayers were answered. My next door neighbor called me and said another neighbor was selling his 1999 Mazda B2500 green truck. It had like 17,000 miles on it. WHAT!
I got off the stair master as we spoke. I was excited and scared all at once. Why? Because I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift. The green truck was a stick. GRIEF! The price was too much for me to pass up: $1,500. You can’t beat that. So I said “YES.” A had no idea what I was getting myself into.
A few days later I had the title and the truck was sitting outside of my house. I didn’t drive it there, my neighbor did. I think the truck sat there for a few days. I didn’t know how to drive it. I had some decisions I needed to make. For some reason, I had always been afraid to drive a stick shift. I never had any bad experiences previously. Growing up, we never owned a stick. From where did these fears arise? To this day I still don’t know. But I learned somehow someway I would need to overcome them. There was no way I was going to let that truck simply sit out there. Besides, we needed another vehicle. So, I needed help. I asked one of my colleagues at the time if he would help learn how to drive it. He said he would.
When the time came for me to begin learning how to drive the truck, I had so many fears.
- Would I stall quite a bit?
- What about stalling in a big intersection?
- What if I had to stop on a hilly street? Would I roll back not knowing what to do?
- Would people laugh at my driving skills (or lack of skills)?
- Would I hurt myself or someone else in this truck?
Some people say, “Don’t worry about your fears because most of them won’t happen.” WRONG. All of them came true except for #5. WHEW! Yep, that’s right. Most of my fears became a reality. We began my truck training in a high school parking lot. It was brutal. My friend got a big kick out of me jerking back and forth. His wife had a few laughs as well after I had to drop him off and try to back out of their driveway.
The first month was pretty scary for me and maybe for other drivers as well. But then something amazing happened. I began to get comfortable. I began to get a little more confident. The fear was slowly going into the background. It was still there, but just not as strong. At times it would creep back up in certain situations. I had to work with it and control it. As I drove the truck more I wondered why I had so many fears. Why did I refuse to even consider getting a stick shift? Why had I limited myself so much? HHHMMMM. Indeed, it is a great mystery.
Fast forward a few months after I got the truck. It’s fall and I’m headed to Mexico to learn Spanish. That was another great fear of mine that I decided to try and conquer. I went in the green truck. It was going to be about a 12-hour drive. Would the truck get there in one piece? Would I get stranded? More FEAR. But this time none of my fears were realized. I certainly did panic when I saw the battery level gauge say low. I had the battery checked while on the road and it was fine. That gauge stayed in the same place for the entire time I owned the truck. I made it to Mexico (Presidio Texas to be exact which is three miles from the border). I had been studying hard trying to learn Spanish. I was scheduled to preach a sermon there in Spanish. More FEAR.
I studied and practiced and studied and practiced for a few months. On a Sunday I was given a chance to preach two lessons in Spanish. Needless to say, it was BRUTAL. But the brethren were really kind. When my time there was over, I got back on the road. Less FEAR on the way home. I had a lot more confidence. The truck survived and so did I. Looking back in 2016, I had no idea I would have a green truck and preach two sermons in Spanish. I’m glad I did.
I have learned some things from the Green Truck that I would like to share with you. Maybe they will help you. If they do great. Please let me know.
I learned a lot about overcoming fear one gear at a time. I have broken this experience into seven different thoughts. At the conclusion of this, you may want to get a sheet of paper and write out the fears you have. Identify what step or gear you may be at this moment.
- OWN IT. I literally owned the green truck. It was mine. There was no escaping it. I couldn’t return it. This is something we must do when it comes to the things we fear. We need to face them head-on. Own the fear. If you’re afraid of public speaking, own it and sign up for a public speaking class like Toastmasters.
- START IT. I had to take those initial steps with the truck. That meant that I had to open the driver’s door, sit down, and start that bad boy up. That was a big deal with the fear I had. But I embraced it and you will have to do the same with whatever the fear you may have. Take the first step so you can begin to conquer the fear.
- GEAR 1: This was where I had a lot of stress, pressure, and fear. I had to somehow have the right touch with the pedals so I could get things going. This is where I stumbled probably the most. There was a lot of hesitation on my part. There was a lot of doubt. What if I didn’t get it right? Most of the time I didn’t get it right. I stalled. Others saw my failure. But it was another necessary step. Whatever it is that may be holding you back, gear 1 will probably be the most challenging. But you will not get to any other gears without this one. Maybe you can skip this part of the process, but long term it will not be good. You will be frustrated as you seek to do and conquer new challenges. You will want to quit. But you can’t. Here’s why.
- GEAR 2: It took me a while to get to this gear but when I did I began to feel much better. I started to really move and get some momentum. When you get to this gear (in your public speaking, starting a company, writing a book, etc.) it will be a great feeling. And it will continue to get better.
- GEAR 3: I was so excited when I punched it into third gear. I was the big dog on the road. Okay, okay, that sounds a little cheesy, but I don’t care. It was a big accomplishment for me. It will be a big accomplishment for you as well. If your fear is something like public speaking and you decide to sign up to Toastmasters, then sign up for that first talk, write the talk, and then get up to present, rest assured you will feel great. Now you will have to keep going. That’s what I did.
- GEAR 4-5: Now I was in beast mode. There was nothing that was going to stop me. I could now drive on the highway and keep up with everyone else. I was on the freeway to SUCCESS. As you overcome your fears one gear at a time you will eventually hit the freeway of SUCCESS. Maybe it’s public speaking or preparing for 1/2 marathon. You will eventually reach a point where everything feels smooth sailing. Most of the time it will be. Until it’s NOT. You see, the green truck taught me something.
- YOU WILL HAVE TO GO BACK TO GEAR 1: I couldn’t always stay in gear 4 or 5. Eventually, there was going to be a stoplight, a stop sign, or some slow driver in front of me. Now I had to go back to gear 3, 2, and then 1. And then I had to start all over again. NOOOOOO! LOL. YEP. That’s right. The green truck constantly humbled me. I had to keep proving myself. And so will you. It’s good to be able to give a public presentation. But can you do it again and again? I know you can. But it will require you beginning again and again. It will require you confronting any fear that may still remain. In life, we will have to continue to conquer and show up. We will constantly go from Gear 1 to Gear 5 and back and forth. That’s good. It will keep us humble. It will force us to stay hungry.
I’m so glad I bought the green truck. It was a great blessing. Who knew one could learn so much from a truck. I’ve learned a lot. What fears are holding you back? What fears are really not your own, but someone else’s? Let them go and begin to SOAR.
I CAN DO and SO CAN YOU.
Let me know of your great success.
I really enjoyed this post Ben. I wrote about my own stick-shift fears in my memoir. Decades after writing about it, I realized, much like you did, that life is all about shifting. Sometimes up, sometimes down. It doesn’t matter how slow we go as long as we never give up! Thanks for sharing your experience. Stay strong! – Robin
Thanks so much. Where can I find your memoir?
You’re welcome! You can find it on Amazon in paperback and back and on Kindle. P.S.- Boys like my book too! 😉 https://www.amazon.com/Steel-Town-Girl-Robin-Donnelly/dp/1726119912/ref=mp_s_a_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=steel+town+girl+robin+donnelly&qid=1558662269&s=gateway&sprefix=steel+town+girl&sr=8-1-fkmrnull
Thank you! Will do
Just followed you. Looking forward learning from you.
I’m going to see if I can find you on FB too. I have two blogs at the moment. One for recipes and another for my book. I’d love to be able to merge the two, but have no idea how… ugh!
I’m not on Facebook or instagram. Just this or email
Tomorrow makes one month off Facebook.
That’s great! You’re inspiring with your drive for fitness and writing. Two of my favorite things. 🙂
I appreciate the kind words
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